by Greg Kotkowski

Although a PhD study should be mostly focused on the scientific aspects, there is much more of the nonacademic wisdom to be learnt. Being in another country with different culture, law and rules makes it sometimes additionally difficult to survive. In this article I describe my adventure of spending a week in an Italian hospital.

Some time ago my local doctor suspected some neural problem for my 9 months old daughter and within a few days we landed in a hospital’s bed. We had dozens of examinations scheduled to be performed, including magnetic resonance under general anesthesia. The problems began when my wife and I were worried about our child and we were unable to communicate with the medical staff as most of them speak neither English, nor German, nor Polish, but only Italian.

Luckily we have just finished the elementary course of Italian and somehow we could understand what the nurses wanted from us. At this point it should be mentioned that everybody in the hospital was very friendly and helpful. Despite the communication problem the nurses tried their best to understand us. Similarly, the doctors did their best to discover the root of the disease. They performed a few examinations every day, paying attention not to skip any cause.

Finally, no medical cause was found and the disease was summarized as physiological and to be grown out. The three lessons that I learnt are:

  1. Respect and be grateful for your health. In the hospital I saw lots of very sick kids that changed my mind on happiness. Saying it with the poet Mickiewicz: “[…] Health; How much you must be valued, will only discover the one who has lost you”.
  2. If you stay in a foreign country learn the language even though it might seem not useful.
  3. Have a good health insurance (luckily I had a good one)

In conclusion, I am quite satisfied with the Italian health care system. I wondered if Italians are also so satisfied. In analogy to my previous article “Satisfaction among Europeans” I’m going to use data from the European Union Open Data Portal. The respondents from 78 cities were asked if generally speaking they were satisfied with health care service, doctors and hospitals in their places. The results are presented below.


It is very apparent that eastern countries have unsatisfactory health care systems. That is why I’m so positively surprised by the care of Italian hospitals. I’m also quite surprised by the difference in opinion on the subject between northern and southern Italy. Is it because southern Italians are more likely to complain about everything? I don’t know, I have still lots to discover in this country.